Legislative Update

Monday, July 21, 2014
July 21, 2014 Legislative Update

General Assembly Leaving Raleigh This Week?

The adjournment of the General Assembly has been rumored to happen several dates since before July 4th but with ongoing budget negotiations stalling between the House and Senate, this year’s “short session” has continued longer than legislators originally anticipated. The House last week signaled a possible adjournment this week, filing an adjournment resolution for Friday, July 25th. The adjournment date is a guess with the coal ash bill still pending and the House and Senate continuing to attempt to come to an agreement on the budget spending plan.

House Speaker Tillis said late last week that the possibility remains that lawmakers will adjourn for the year without making budget adjustments for this fiscal year, which began July 1st. Last week the Senate unveiled a new budget proposal, compromising on teacher raises, giving them an 8 percent rather than 11 percent raise. Speaker Tillis however said the House has no plans to budge from providing the 6 percent raises for teachers. The Speaker has said the Senate proposal(s) would mean layoffs of teachers and teacher assistants in order to offer the higher raises. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Brown (R-Onslow) has said “The Senate has tried to make a leap and come to a compromise.”

Budget negotiations will continue this week, as well as a flurry of activity with outstanding legislation as lawmakers work towards adjourning.

Governor Receives New Common Core Package

As last reported, the House and Senate came to an agreement on their differences over how to replace the Common Core standards in North Carolina. The House and Senate said they settled upon a plan that favors the Senate’s plan more but still represents a move to replace the standards. Both chambers had already agreed on a plan to create a new commission to study and recommend new academic standards. However, the chambers didn’t agree on what the commission was allowed to recommend: The House banned the commission from recommending any part of the Common Core standards for the new standards, while the Senate allowed for parts of the standards to be recommended if the commission found them to be the best.

Following the Senate’s vote, the House passed the compromise bill and it is now on the Governor’s desk, who recently announced his intentions of signing into law. Governor McCrory released a statement saying, "I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina's education standards. It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education."

Film Incentives Headed Towards Grant Program

As the House and Senate continue budget negotiations, the fate of film incentives appear to be headed towards a grant program. A $20 million grant program is included in recent budget offers. The proposal is to create a discretionary grant program under the Department of Commerce. To be eligible, a feature film would have to spend at least $10 million in North Carolina. TV series would have to spend $1 million per episode, and commercials spending $500,000. Grants would be capped at $5 million per film and or TV series and $250,000 for commercials. The current cap is $20 million per production. House Speaker Thom Tillis said late last week that the state's current film incentives program likely would be replaced by a grant program for film production companies. "The sense that I get is that that's the only direction that the Senate wants to go, and I'm working with my caucus to see if we can support that.”

New Economic Development Package Unveiled

The Senate Finance committee passed a revised version of HB 1224, Local Sales Tax for Education/Economic Development Changes, which prevents counties from raising sales taxes to pay for both public education and public transportation. The legislation says that counties can raise taxes specifically for transit or for education, but not for both. It caps local sales tax rates at 2.5 cents per dollar. Though it spells out the amount eligible for use on education and transit, the bill allows for more flexibility on how to use sales tax revenue overall.  The bill has stirred controversy in Mecklenburg and Wake counties, where proposals for a referendum in November would raise both counties’ tax rates by ¼ cent to fund education.

The bill also creates a new state fund to attract jobs, the Job Catalyst Fund. The purpose of the Job Catalyst Fund will be to provide funds to a local government for projects that result in the creation of jobs. Businesses who receive these funds must agree to create and maintain a specific amount of jobs, depending on the county’s tier, for a minimum of 10 years.

Although HB 1224 already passed the Senate Finance committee this week, it was re-referred back to committee. The bill also still needs full House and Senate approval, along with the Governor’s signature, before the end of short session in order to become law.

Crowdfunding & Access to Capital Packages Move Forward

HB 680 , Start-Ups Act/New Markets Tax Credit Act, passed the Senate Commerce Committee. The legislation allows NC residents to invest small amounts in new in-state ventures through crowdfunding. It paves the way for companies to raise up to $1 million in capital, and $2 million if they have undergone a financial audit, through “unregistered securities.” These companies would have the ability to sell shares, mainly online, directly to small investors, rather than through the stock market. The bill caps each investor’s purchase to $2,000 in “unregistered securities” unless that person is an “accredited investor.” Accredited investor implies a level of financial savvy and stability of funds to have enough money to risk.

At the federal level, Congress has passed a federal crowdfunding law that would ordinarily govern these types of transactions, but the responsible agency has yet to adopt rules necessary to put the law in place. At the state level, the Secretary of State’s Office would oversee the transactions and collect quarterly reports.

The second half of the bill focuses on the New Markets Tax Credit, which bill sponsor, Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, said would help entice $208.3 million in investments to the state. Currently the state levies a gross premiums tax on insurance companies for the privilege of doing business in NC. This bill would give those insurers a tax credit in exchange for investing in qualified small businesses that may not be able to find capital otherwise.

Language in the bill requires that 75 percent of the money raised would have to go to the most economically distressed counties. While similar to the federal new markets credit, the state proposed language does not rely on the federal measure.

The bill passed committee with strong bi-partisan support this week, and now sits in Senate Finance for consideration.

Medicaid Reform Negotiations Continue

State lawmakers worked rigorously this week to in an attempt to tackle the state’s Medicaid problems. The legislature is trying to reform the state’s Medicaid program so that there will be better cost predictability. The $13 billion program that covers about 1.7 million North Carolinians has run over budget the past four years.

Despite heavy opposition from the House, Governor and a large portion of the medical community, the Senate’s Medicaid proposal overcame a hurdle on the floor Thursday. A Senate committee recommended a version of the HB 1181, NC Medicaid Modernization, which would shift Medicaid to a managed-care model. The proposal calls for provider-led and commercial managed care organizations to compete for enrollees within designated regions, with the provider-led plans being responsible for their cost overruns by 2018.

The Senate plan also calls for the creation of a new department, the Department of Medical Benefits. Under this plan, the DMB would be in charge of operating the state’s Medicaid and NC Health Choice programs. Also, instead of an appointed Secretary to head the Department, a Board would be established, consisting of seven members all appointed by the Governor and General Assembly. The House has embraced the Accountable Care Organizations model, which would reward doctors and hospitals in the provider-run networks for meeting patient health goals while saving money The House’s timeline is also less aggressive than the Senate’s timeline, requiring providers to take all risk for overruns by 2020, rather than 2018. The House plan is backed by the state’s major health care providers, including hospitals and doctors. Governor McCrory also champions this proposal. In fact, the Governor showed opposition to the other chamber’s proposal, stating “The Senate’s proposed bureaucratic reorganization is impractical and undermines the progress that has been made during the past year and a half. This legislative overreach also raises some serious constitutional issues and should not be raised in the closing days of the short session.”

Regulatory Reform

H1031

NC Economic Development-Department of Commerce Reorganization

Ratified; Signed by Governor

H1109/S779

Clarify Existing Rules Re-adoption Process

Passed House; Senate Rules/Senate Judiciary I

H1152

Eliminate Obsolete Boards & Commissions

Passed House; Senate Rules

H1163/S776

Streamline Rule-Making Process

House Rules/Senate Judiciary I

S729

Coal Ash Management Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House;
Conference Committee

S734

Regulatory Reform Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House; Senate Ways & Means

Taxes

H1050

Omnibus Tax Changes

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S795

Local Option Sales Tax

Senate Local Government

Transportation

S827

DOT Partnerships with Private Developers

Senate Transportation

S848

Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement

Ratified

Education

H1055

UNC-Charlotte
Renewable Energy Research

House Appropriations

H1061/S812

Replace Common Core

Conference Committee; Passed House; Passed Senate

H1182

UNC Non-Appropriated Capital Projects

Ratified ; Signed by Governor

 

Job Creation

H1068/S838

Increase Minimum Wage

House Commerce/Senate Rules

H1078

Business Court Judges/End Special Superior Court Judges

House Appropriations

H1135

Business Facilities Development

House Commerce

H1142

Modify Film/Historic Rehab Tax Credits

House Finance

S648

NC Commerce Protection Act of 2014

Conference Committee

H1224

JMAC Development & Fund Modifications

Passed House; Senate Finance

S786

Energy Modernization Act of 2014

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S853

Business Court Modernization

Passed Senate; Passed House

 

Posted by: Kerri Burke, McGuire Woods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
July 15, 2014 Legislative Update

Legislators Attempt to Wind Down Session While Budget Negotiations Stall Again

As reported last week, the North Carolina General Assembly remains focused on compromising on a budget package and working out differences on several key bills that are in conference committee. Last week, neither the House nor Senate held any committee meetings aside from public budget conference committees. The House held no-vote sessions all week, while the Senate kept a very light schedule on the days they held official sessions.

The House and Senate budget conferees met several times this week in public meetings to negotiate their differences, and while some headway was made on a budget compromise for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, they still continue to be in a stalemate. The Senate conceded on two fronts: Teachers will not be required to give up their tenure in order to receive a pay raise, and the State Crime Lab will remain under Attorney General Roy Cooper, both nods toward the House budget. The House satisfied the Senate by compromising on the lottery numbers, removing the additional $29.5 million that the House had in its projected bottom line. Those concessions, however, did not come without harsh words exchanged by both chambers throughout the week. Senate conferees left the Wednesday morning public budget conference committee meeting when the House announced that it would be having several superintendents and teachers come to give public comment on how the Senate education budget would be harmful to schools. Senator budget writer Harry Brown, R-Onslow, objected to the public comments, saying that they violated the rules of the conference committee. After House chief budget writer, Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, did not back down, Senate conferees left the room until public comment concluded.

By week’s end it was clear that tensions between the two chambers were not much better. The day started off with the Senate offering another budget compromise, maintaining its 11 percent pay raise for teachers while offering $171 million for the House to earmark toward Medicaid and teacher assistants. House budget writers have been critical of the Senate’s plan to pay for 11 percent teacher raises by cutting services to Medicaid and cutting the budget for teacher assistants across the state. Speaker Thom Tillis followed the Senate budget offer by announcing that the House has a budget offer elevating teacher pay from a 5 percent increase to a 6 percent increase, a number closer to the Senate’s 11 percent. The governor weighed in on the continuing budget stalemate by pledging to veto the Senate’s latest version of the budget, saying that the House’s latest plan was “a long-term, sustainable and affordable plan.”

Update: Senate Passes New Common Core Agreement

As recently reported, the House and Senate came to an agreement on their differences over how to replace the Common Core standards in North Carolina. The House and Senate said they settled upon a plan that favors the Senate’s plan more but still represents a move to replace the standards. Both chambers had already agreed on a plan to create a new commission to study and recommend new academic standards. However, the chambers didn’t agree on what the commission was allowed to recommend: The House banned the commission from recommending any part of the Common Core standards for the new standards, while the Senate allowed for parts of the standards to be recommended if the commission found them to be the best.

On Thursday, the Senate voted in favor of the compromise bill, 33-12. All of the Senate Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, voted in favor of the measure. The bill is now waiting for the House to sign off on the measure before it can go to the governor’s desk.

Coal Ash Regulations Await Senate Action

The Senate delayed a vote on whether to concur to Senate Bill 729-Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, which may extend the 15-year timetable to close North Carolina coal ash ponds. It is predicated that the Senate will vote to NOT concur to the package, meaning a conference committee will be formed to negotiate differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Both the House and Senate set deadlines between 2019 and 2029 for the closure of the state’s 33 ash ponds, depending on the risks that a new commission determines they pose. The House version allows the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to grant extensions to those deadlines. The House made several others changes to the Senate version of the bill, including allowing the governor to name the chair of the new nine-member coal ash commission. Neither of the versions passed clarify the financial responsibility.

Governor Signs UNC Nonappropriated Capital Projects

Governor Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 1182, UNC Nonappropriated Capital Projects. As implemented, six schools in the University of North Carolina system (East Carolina, NC State, UNC Asheville, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte and Western Carolina) are now authorized to spend approximately $376 million for improvements. The money does not come from tuition costs or taxpayers but instead comes from fees, receipts, grants and fundraising by each institution. NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum will now see $35 million in improvements, while UNC Charlotte will use $129 million for improvements in dorms and other buildings, as well as to construct a new residence hall.

Regulatory Reform

H1031

NC Economic Development-Department of Commerce Reorganization

Ratified; Signed by Governor

H1109/S779

Clarify Existing Rules Re-adoption Process

Passed House; Senate Rules/Senate Judiciary I

H1152

Eliminate Obsolete Boards & Commissions

Passed House; Senate Rules

H1163/S776

Streamline Rule-Making Process

House Rules/Senate Judiciary I

S729

Coal Ash Management Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House

S734

Regulatory Reform Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House; Senate Ways & Means

Taxes

H1050

Omnibus Tax Changes

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S795

Local Option Sales Tax

Senate Local Government

Transportation

S827

DOT Partnerships with Private Developers

Senate Transportation

S848

Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement

Ratified

Education

H1055

UNC-Charlotte
Renewable Energy Research

House Appropriations

H1061/S812

Replace Common Core

Conference Committee

H1182

UNC Non-Appropriated Capital Projects

Ratified ; Signed by Governor

Job Creation

H1068/S838

Increase Minimum Wage

House Commerce/Senate Rules

H1078

Business Court Judges/End Special Superior Court Judges

House Appropriations

H1135

Business Facilities Development

House Commerce

H1142

Modify Film/Historic Rehab Tax Credits

House Finance

S648

NC Commerce Protection Act of 2014

Conference Committee

H1224

JMAC Development & Fund Modifications

Passed House; Senate Appropriations

S786

Energy Modernization Act of 2014

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S853

Business Court Modernization

Passed Senate; Passed House

 

Posted by: Kerri Burke, McGuire Woods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, July 7, 2014
July 7, 2014 Legislative Update

Budget Negotiations…Light at the End of the Tunnel?

As reported last week, with the budget negotiations stalled, the House and the Governor endorsed a new spending measured coined the Mini-Budget. The new spending plan separated top priorities from the broader House budget, including teacher and state employee raises, new coal ash regulators and additional Medicaid money. The Senate last week unceremoniously ditched the spending bill, returning the trimmed-down spending measure to the House without debating its contents. Despite the Senate’s rejection, the House and Senate made a breakthrough in the stalled budget negotiations by reaching an agreement on additional $323 million in Medicaid spending. The Senate's budget negotiators accepted the House's offer -- the midpoint of best- and worst-case scenarios presented by fiscal analysts -- for pending Medicaid provider claims and potential expenses for the coming year.

The agreement on Medicaid was a major break-through in the budget negotiations but the House and Senate still have to negotiate other major differences such as education. As of late last week, the two chambers were still at odds over the North Carolina Education Lottery. The House wants to double the advertising budget for the lottery to 2 percent of sales, of which projections indicated would generate $29 million more in the coming year. The Senate, on the other hand wants to retain it at 1 percent.

The House and Senate will be devoting this week to finalizing budget negotiations and conference committees on other key pieces of legislation. The pace of the negotiations this week will dictate the schedule of the General Assembly adjourning this year’s “short session”.

ACTION ALERT-Compromise on Common Core

The House and Senate tentatively reached an agreement on competing Common Core proposals late last week. Reports indicate the negotiated package repeals and replaces the Common Core standards while allowing state education officials to pull some pieces of the standards into the new state regime. The compromised version of Senate Bill 812, once officially filed will have to pass the full House and Senate.

TAKE ACTION!-It is imperative that the General Assembly hears from our members as to the vital importance of retaining Common Core standards and how higher education standards mean jobs for our community. As part of the Charlotte Chamber’s agenda, retaining the Common Core standards is a priority and remains at center stage of our advocacy efforts. What the General Assembly decides about Common Core is one of the most critical decisions the 2014 General Assembly will make on education policy. Contact your representatives today!

Senate Urges Veto Override of Industrial Commission Legislation

As reported last week, Governor McCrory used his veto stamp for the first time during the 2014 session. The Governor vetoed House Bill 1069: Unemployment Insurance Law Changes a wide-ranging unemployment bill. The measure would shorten the terms of existing members on the Board of Review of which reviews decisions on unemployment benefits made by the Division of Employment Security. In addition, the bill also would have required jobless workers to contact five potential employers each week, versus the current requirement of two to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Senator Rabon (R-New Hanover) made an official plea to the House to override the veto. The Senate leaders reiterated the importance of the legislation citing the federal employer tax could increase from $126 to $240 for each employee, amounting to a tax of more than $1 billion on businesses. In addition, without the bill North Carolina could be out of compliance over the potential disclosure information, endangering $57 million in federal grants.

Senate Rejects Amended Tort Reform Proposal

Senate Bill 648, NC Commerce Protection Act of 2013, a comprehensive tort reform package was voted down by the Senate after the House amended the bill.  The House drastically amended the package, retaining only those provisions on Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPCA) and strengthening patent protections. The House removed those original provisions amending our successor liability laws, expanding the role of three-judge panels in the judicial process, and providing protections against frivolous lawsuits in the life science industry.

The measure now goes to a conference committee for the House and Senate to work out differences.

Coal Ash Reform Moves Forward

Following the Senate’s passage, the House approved Senate Bill 729-Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, which may extend the 15-year timetable to close North Carolina coal ash ponds. Both the House and Senate set deadlines between 2019 and 2029 for closing of the state’s 33 ash ponds, depending on the risks that a new commission determines they pose. The House version allows the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to grant extensions to those deadlines. The House made several others changes to the Senate version of the bill, including allowing the Governor to name the chairman of the new nine-member coal ash commission. Neither of the versions passed clarify the financial responsibility.

The measure will now go back to the Senate for concurrence, which is not likely, meaning a conference committee will be formed for the House and Senate to reconcile key differences.

Anti-Business Workers’ Compensation Bill Stalled

Senate Bill 101-WC/Inflation Indexing for Organ Injury/Loss has been stalled in the House. The measure was debated in the House Judiciary B Committee where after the business community testified in opposition, the committee did not take a vote on the bill. The proposal included provisions that would:

  • Workers’ Compensation Premiums: Raise premiums for all employers whether or not they have claims.
  • Organ Loss Inflation: More than double the award (from $20,000 to up to $41,600) for the loss of, or permanent injury to an organ and an annual adjustment upward based on the Consumer Price Index.

Regulatory Reform

H1031

NC Economic Development-Department of Commerce Reorganization

Ratified; Signed by Governor

H1109/S779

Clarify Existing Rules Re-adoption Process

Passed House; Senate Rules/Senate Judiciary I

H1152

Eliminate Obsolete Boards & Commissions

Passed House; Senate Rules

H1163/S776

Streamline Rule-Making Process

House Rules/Senate Judiciary I

S729

Coal Ash Management Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House

S734

Regulatory Reform Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House; Senate Ways & Means

Taxes

H1050

Omnibus Tax Changes

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S795

Local Option Sales Tax

Senate Local Government

Transportation

S827

DOT Partnerships with Private Developers

Senate Transportation

S848

Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement

Ratified

Education

H1055

UNC-Charlotte
Renewable Energy Research

House Appropriations

H1061/S812

Replace Common Core

Conference Committee

H1182

UNC Non-Appropriated Capital Projects

Ratified

Job Creation

H1068/S838

Increase Minimum Wage

House Commerce/Senate Rules

H1078

Business Court Judges/End Special Superior Court Judges

House Appropriations

H1135

Business Facilities Development

House Commerce

H1142

Modify Film/Historic Rehab Tax Credits

House Finance

S648

NC Commerce Protection Act of 2014

Conference Committee

H1224

JMAC Development & Fund Modifications

Passed House; Senate Appropriations

S786

Energy Modernization Act of 2014

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S853

Business Court Modernization

Passed Senate; Passed House

 

Posted by: Kerri Burke, McGuire Woods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
July 1, 2014 Legislative Update

Budget Negotiations Stall….General Assembly Adjournment Delayed?

The Senate and House have to reconcile their separate version of a $21 billion spending plan before sending it to the Governor’s desk. With significant differences in education and Medicaid funding on the forefront it appears a compromise may take longer than lawmakers initially anticipated. With the current fiscal year ending on June 30th, approval of a new spending plan must happen before Tuesday July 1. If they fail to reach an agreement on the budget or pass a continuing resolution, the state’s existing two-year budget will stay in effect.

With the budget negotiations stalled, the House and the Governor took an alternative approach, endorsing a new spending measure coined the “Mini-Budget”. The new spending plan separates top priorities from the broader House budget, including teacher and state employee raises, new coal ash regulators, and additional Medicaid money. Acknowledging tensions between the House and Senate, Governor McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis unveiled the new budget proposal without involving the Senate.

The mini-budget reflects education spending provisions in the House budget proposal, providing an average 5 percent teacher raise, $1,000 salary increase for most state employees, and a 1.44 percent cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees. The bill also maintains teacher assistant positions in lower grades, provides more money for textbooks, allows teachers to maintain their tenure and restores salary bonuses to educators with master’s degrees.

The source of funding for education spending is a key difference between this proposal and the prior House budget proposal. Lawmakers abandoned an attempt to use increased lottery funds for teacher raises, initially expected to result from doubling the NC Education Lottery’s advertising budget. Moving away from the very controversial funding source, the House proposal now relies on $116 million in additional lottery money from past surpluses and increased projections of revenue, to pay for teacher raises and career pathways.

The House unanimously passed the mini budget 117-0 late last week and now moves to the Senate for consideration. The outcome of the budget negotiations will dictate the timeline for the General Assembly adjourning.

House Amends Tort Reform Proposal

Senate Bill 648, NC Commerce Protection Act of 2013, a comprehensive tort reform package passed by the Senate was drastically amended by the House. The amended package now focuses just on Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPCA) and strengthening patent protections. The House removed those original provisions amending our successor liability laws, expanding the role of three-judge panels in the judicial process, and providing protections against frivolous lawsuits in the life science industry. The new measure passed the House with a vote of 111-2 and now goes back to the Senate for a vote on the changes.

Governor Vetoes Industrial Commission Legislation

Governor McCrory used his veto stamp for the first time during the 2014 session. The Governor vetoed House Bill 1069: Unemployment Insurance Law Changes a wide-ranging unemployment bill. The measure would shorten the terms of existing members on the Board of Review of which reviews decisions on unemployment benefits made by the Division of Employment Security. 

Lawmakers and the Governor have been debating over the Board of Review since last year when legislators criticized the Governor for failing to meet a deadline for appointing board members. The Governor issued the veto based on the three-member Board of Review, citing opposition to the provisions staggering and shortening the terms of members, whom he appointed. Late last week the House worked on a revised proposal in hopes to address the Governor’s concerns. Within the original bill one member’s term would have expired on June 30th, the new bill gives that member two more years on the board; after that, the position would be a four-year term. The new proposal also staggers and extends a second member’s terms of four years, and changes the third member’s term by staggering it so it is a four-year term, followed by a two-year term and then returns to a four-year term.

Among other measures, the bill also would have required jobless workers to contact five potential employers each week, versus the current requirement of two to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.

ACTION ALERT-Common Core Takes New Path

The Common Core debate continues as the House and Senate cannot agree on competing proposals. As reported last week, the House replaced Senate Bill 812 (Maintain State Authority Over State Standards) with language from the House version of the bill, House Bill 1061. The Senate had originally amended their version taking out the provision that North Carolina cannot allow the Department of Education to consider continuing to use Common Core as a basis for future standards. The House voted remove this amendment and the Senate voted NOT to concur, meaning the House and Senate will now go to conference committee to work out a compromise.

TAKE ACTION!-It is imperative that the General Assembly hears from our members as to the vital importance of retaining Common Core standards and how higher education standards mean jobs for our community. What the General Assembly decides about Common Core is one of the most critical decisions the 2014 General Assembly will make on education policy. Contact your representatives today!

House Amends Comprehensive Regulatory Reform Measures

Revamping a controversial and very lengthy regulatory reform bill, the House reduced the regulatory reform bill into two separate bills. Senate Bill 493: Health and Safety Regulatory Reform, includes measures such as mandating autism insurance coverage and banning tanning beds for youth under the age of 18. Senate Bill 734: Regulatory Reform Act of 2014 focuses on business and government regulations. While some legislators have supported the measures, others continue to criticize the vast amount of unrelated laws included within one measure.

Leadership within the Senate has indicated the Senate will NOT concur with the House’s regulatory reform bills, sending them to conference committees to be negotiated.

JMAC Incentives Program Amended

The House passed House Bill 1224: JMAC Development Fund Modifications, amending the incentives program. The Jobs Maintenance and Capital Development Investment Fund-“JMAC” is intended to encourage retention of high-paying jobs and promote capital investment. The legislation increases funding for the program from $69 million to $79 million and qualifies certain large businesses in Tier 2 counties. Under the current program only businesses in Tier 1 counties, the most economically depressed areas are qualified for grants. Proponents of the bill purport the changes will allow the company Evergreen Packaging in Haywood County to receive $12 million in grants from the fund as it spends $60 million to meet air quality standards by converting coal-fired burners to natural gas. Opponents, including Rep Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg) questioned the motives of the package to solely benefit one specific company.

 

Bill Tracking

Regulatory Reform

H1031

NC Economic Development-Department of Commerce Reorganization

Ratified; Signed by Governor

H1109/S779

Clarify Existing Rules Re-adoption Process

Passed House; Senate Rules/Senate Judiciary I

H1152

Eliminate Obsolete Boards & Commissions

Passed House; Senate Rules

H1163/S776

Streamline Rule-Making Process

House Rules/Senate Judiciary I

S729

Coal Ash Management Act of 2014

Passed Senate

S734

Regulatory Reform Act of 2014

Passed Senate; Passed House

Taxes

H1050

Omnibus Tax Changes

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S795

Local Option Sales Tax

Senate Local Government

Transportation

S827

DOT Partnerships with Private Developers

Senate Transportation

S848

Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement

Ratified

Education

H1055

UNC-Charlotte
Renewable Energy Research

House Appropriations

H1061/S812

Replace Common Core

Conference Committee

H1182

UNC Non-Appropriated Capital Projects

Passed House; Passed Senate Finance

Job Creation

H1068/S838

Increase Minimum Wage

House Commerce/Senate Rules

H1078

Business Court Judges/End Special Superior Court Judges

House Appropriations

H1135

Business Facilities Development

House Commerce

H1142

Modify Film/Historic Rehab Tax Credits

House Finance

S648

NC Commerce Protection Act of 2014

Passed House; Passed Senate

H1224

JMAC Development & Fund Modifications

Passed House

S786

Energy Modernization Act of 2014

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S853

Business Court Modernization

Passed Senate; House Judiciary

 

Posted by: Kerri Burke, McGuire Woods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, June 23, 2014
June 23, 2013 Legislative Update

Budget Negotiations Continue & General Assembly Aims for Adjournment

The Senate and House have to reconcile their separate versions of a $21 billion spending plan before sending it to the Governor’s desk. The House and Senate have major differences in their versions such as Medicaid funding and teacher pay. Senate and House leaders each names their negotiating teams, known as the budget conference committee and are expected to begin meeting this week.

One of the major sticking points in budget negotiations is the Senate’s stance that the House does not provide enough revenue to pay for Medicaid costs and inaccurately assumes lottery proceeds to pay for teacher pay raises. The House budget provided $83 million for Medicaid overruns in this current year, while the Senate put it at $180 million. For the next year, the House provided $118 million in extra revenue to cover increased costs while the Senate allotted $266 million. Senate budget writers believe the House version of Medicaid spending combined with the lower lottery revenue forecasts for teacher pay will lead to a massive budget shortfall next year.

The deadline for the budget is June 30th, the end of the current fiscal year. If legislators do not finalize a budget compromise by that date they can pass a temporary spending measure, a continuing resolution to allow for an extended amount of time to finalize the budget. With the budget deadline looming and Senate leaders filing an adjournment resolution for June 27th, the House and Senate passed a flurry of bills last weeks and this week is sure to keep the same fast pace of activity.

ACTION ALERT-Common Core Takes New Path

The Common Core debate is far from over. Last week the House Education Committee replaced Senate Bill 812 (Maintain State Authority Over State Standards) with language from the House version of the bill, House Bill 1061. The Senate had originally amended their version taking out the provision that North Carolina cannot allow the Department of Education to consider continuing to use Common Core as a basis for future standards. The House Education Committee’s move to revert to the original version surpasses this amendment and the bill passed out of the House committee with a 27-16 vote and is expected to have a full House vote this week!

TAKE ACTION-It is imperative that the General Assembly hears from our members as to the vital importance of retaining Common Core standards and how higher education standards mean jobs for our community. What the General Assembly decides about Common Core is one of the most critical decisions the 2014 General Assembly will make on education policy. Contact your representatives today!

New Charlotte Airport Proposal Becomes Law

The General Assembly has given final approval to House Bill 133-Charlotte Airport Commission Clarifications. The House gave the final vote needed to become law with a vote of 75-42. Proponents argue the measure will end the controversy as to who should run the Charlotte Douglas Internal Airport, adding another twist in the battle that has endured for over a year. At stake is whether the Charlotte City Council or the new Charlotte Airport Commission will have authority over running the airport. The proposal would establish that the 13-member commission is an agency within the city government. This follows the FAA being undecided as to whether the new commission can run the airport without clarification as whether it is an “agency” of the city. One provision of controversy was that says the city could to “obtain a determination from the FAA that the Commission may operate the airport” under the existing operating certificate or under a new certification. Opponents argue the section forces the city to cease the legal suit. Proponents on the other hand argue that is not true and the provision merely directs the city to follow the law and provide information to the FAA. Proponents concede that despite the new measure the city’s legal challenge will likely still have to play out in court before the commission controversy is fully resolved.

Department of Commerce Reorganization Heads to Governor’s Desk

The Senate passed unanimously House Bill 1031, NC Economic Development Partnership Modifications, which creates the framework for the new economic development partnership, a nonprofit organization expected to take over job recruiting, marketing and other Department of Commerce functions.  The proposal would require the new partnership to raise funds over five years with a $250,000 startup threshold. A 17-member board will be formed and another seven-member panel is charged with ensuring the corporation is doing its job.  Department of Commerce employees are expected to transition this summer, moving into the new nonprofit partnership. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said the Commerce Department is well-prepared for the transition and that it is one that will allow the state to “recruit business at the speed of business.”

The Governor is expected to sign into law soon, releasing a statement after the vote saying, “This action takes another important step in our Carolina Comeback by allowing our state’s economic development efforts to be more focused on customer service and efficiency, as well as job retention and creation.”

Senate Advances Coal Ash Regulations

After approval by the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Bill 729, Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, goes before the full Senate on Tuesday, June 24th. The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 sets out a plan for closure of 33 coal ash ponds that are located across the state. It requires ash to be removed from ponds at four power plants considered high priority due to their proximity to water. The remaining ponds will be closed according to the risk level lawmakers assign them. The measure builds upon the Governor’s proposal, making changes to set a 15-year timetable for dewatering and closing all unlined coal ash ponds in North Carolina and eliminates the practice of wet ash disposal.

Other aspects of the bill include the creation of a nine-member Coal Ash Management Commission to oversee the hazard ratings, closure plans and a regulatory fee that must be paid by the utility. The fee would raise more than $2 million a year toward the addition of 25 more positions in the NC Department of Energy and Natural Resources.

Comprehensive Regulatory Reform Measures Advance

Lawmakers had mixed feelings about a number of regulatory reform measures introduced last week in two ominous bills. Senate Bill 493, 2014 Regulatory Reform Act, included a long list of legislative measures from autism health insurance coverage to clarifying the professional engineer exemption. While some legislators supported the bill as a whole, others criticized the vast amount of unrelated laws thrown under one measure. The bill is expected to have a full House floor vote this week.

A second regulatory reform bill, dealing with environmental laws passed the House last week and is headed to the Senate for consideration. Senate Bill 38, Amend Environmental Laws 2014, contains a list  of updates and mostly minor changes, amending environmental regulations. The measure would prohibit local governments from regulating fertilizers, exempt some old animal waste lagoons from environmental rules and roll back certain required air quality reporting.

House Unveils Medicaid Reform Proposal

House leaders rolled out a Medicaid reform proposal last week.  In large part, the proposal embraces Governor McCrory’s plan for an overhaul of the Medicaid system. The proposal, House Bill 1181, North Carolina Medicaid Modernization, makes significant changes in the state’s roughly $14 billion Medicaid program by moving from the current fee-for-service model to “full capitation. Keeping in line with the Governor’s proposal, the House language allows for accountable care organizations to form, keeping the reform provider-driven.In the Senate’s budget, it called for the NC Department of Health & Human Services to cease any activities related to implementing Medicaid reform based on its proposed accountable care organization (ACO) model. The Senate called for a full capitation model, signaling that the House’s proposal did give a gesture towards their plan, as well. The bill passed the House Health & Human Services Committee and now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.

Regulatory Reform

H1031

NC Economic Development-Department of Commerce Reorganization

Ratified

H1109/S779

Clarify Existing Rules Re-adoption Process

Passed House; Senate Rules/Senate Judiciary I

H1152

Eliminate Obsolete Boards & Commissions

Passed House; Senate Rules

H1163/S776

Streamline Rule-Making Process

House Rules/Senate Judiciary I

H1228/S729

Coal Ash Management Act of 2014

House Environment/Passed Senate Finance-Calendared for 6/24

S734

Regulatory Reform Act of 2014

Passed Senate; House Regulatory Reform

Taxes

H1050

Omnibus Tax Changes

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S795

Local Option Sales Tax

Senate Local Government

Transportation

S827

DOT Partnerships with Private Developers

Senate Transportation

S848

Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement

Passed Senate; House Government

Education

H1055

UNC-Charlotte
Renewable Energy Research

House Appropriations

H1061/S812

Replace Common Core

Passed House; Senate Education/Passed Senate; Passed House Education

H1182

UNC Non-Appropriated Capital Projects

Passed House 2nd Reading

Job Creation

H1068/S838

Increase Minimum Wage

House Commerce/Senate Rules

H1078

Business Court Judges/End Special Superior Court Judges

House Appropriations

H1135

Business Facilities Development

House Commerce

H1142

Modify Film/Historic Rehab Tax Credits

House Finance

H1217

Tort Claims Act Clarification

House Government

H1224

JMAC Development & Fund Modifications

House Appropriations

S786

Energy Modernization Act of 2014

Ratified; Signed by Governor

S853

Business Court Modernization

Passed Senate; House Judiciary

 

Posted by: Kerri Burke, McGuire Woods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
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